Saturday, September 16, 2017

Leia


Just finished reading this new young adult novel, Leia: Princess of Alderaan (Claudia Gray, 2017). A very nice read, taking place 3 years before the events of A New Hope. The rebellion is forming, and Leia's parents Bail and Breha are at the heart of it. Leia herself is just beginning to become enmeshed in the still-behind-the-scenes struggle. She is still a young girl, not yet a Senator or Rebel leader.

Other than the Organas, Mon Mothma, Captain Antilles, and Grand Moff Tarkin, we don't know most of the other characters. There are no scenes of battle or desperate action. The book is laying the ground work for the ominous fight yet to come. Well written, good characterizations- a solid entry into my preferred canon.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

X-Wing Homebrew


The FFG forum is a good place for serial complainers, like me. One of the ideas that has struck me recently is the gripe that recent X-Wing Miniatures Game releases have been poorly executed.

FFG wants (rightfully so) to get on the new movie band-wagon as soon as possible. However, they are not industry insiders enough to actually get real details about the ships, capabilities, and pilots they include in these slap-dash expansions.

A few examples are in order. For The Force Awakens, FFG decides to make a new starter set featuring the Resistance T-70 and the First Order TIE fighter. Sounds OK. I don't particularly like the idea of two starter sets for sale at the same time, but whatever. They also add both ships (in stand-alone form) as late-comer additions to the not yet released Wave 8. Strangely enough, these two add-ins are released before the rest of Wave 8, right around the time of the movie. (They weren't really members of Wave 8, were they?).

Anyway, on the T-70 side these brand new expansions feature such thrilling pilots as: Poe Dameron (makes sense), Blue Ace (as a "unique" pilot name), Red Ace (also unique...), and Ello Asty. The First Order side (like many Imperials before them) are less individualized and go for unique pilot cards with names like Omega Ace, Epsilon Leader, Zeta Ace, Omega Leader, Zeta Leader, and Epsilon Ace. Not very personable. What does this tell us? That FFG doesn't have any real info about who should be flying which ships. The Heroes of the Resistance pack, released later, brings in the other unique, named pilot cards who fly with Poe: Nien Nunb, Snap Wexley, and Jess Pava.

Ok. FFG can be forgiven for not being in the inner circle of developers on TFA. Understandable. I wish they'd had the ability to give two unique named T-70 pilots in both the TFA Core set and the T-70 expansion. That would've been better.

Next example. Another FFG attempt to strike while the iron's hot. This time we're awaiting the three ships of Wave 10 when they spring a pair of late entries on us. Again, two movie tie-in ships that pretend they were part of Wave 10 all along. These also arrive before the rest of their Wave counterparts (hint, they weren't really part of Wave 10). In this case, Rogue One is the movie that makes the dollar signs dance in front of FFG's eyes. Here their errors are arguably worse. The U-wing they design has a boarding ramp instead of a clear glass window (probably a last minute change by the film producers, but one that did not catch Lego unawares, just FFG in both the ship model and their art work).

The boarding ramp FFG thought was on the U-wing

The pre-movie release concept art that suggests, perhaps, said boarding ramp

The Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide that shows the film-correct ventral viewport

The Lego U-wing is film-correct "transparent cockpit floor"


The U-wing expansion doesn't include pilot cards for fan-favorite and show stealer K-2S0, and it does include a pilot card for Bodhi Rook (who is neat, but never flew the U-wing). It also include a crew member, Bistan, whose scenes were cut from the movie altogether.

The other ship in this ill-fated Wave, the TIE Striker, also strikes out. In this case, the ship (as seen in the Ultimate Visual Guide) is a light bomber with a crew of two. Oops. Not communicated to FFG, apparently.

Which brings us to the latest edition of FFG rushing to print: the two Last Jedi tie-ins nominally called Wave 13 (which have SKU numbers lower than Wave 12). The TIE Silencer (which they designed without knowing what it does and who, other than Kylo Ren, might be a good named pilot for it) and the Resistance Bomber, about which FFG apparently knows even less. Such inspiring unique pilot names, here: Crimson Leader, Crimson something else, and one other name in quotes, meaning it isn't an actual character's name, just some sad words suggesting they don't know any more than the rest of us do about these things.

Long story short: I think it's past time for me to work up stats to re-configure this game, Homebrew style. I will be working on this for some time to come, and posting my ideas here. All with two guiding principles in mind:

1. Fluff rules. I care about game balance only as a distant secondary concern. And I would hope I need only care enough to worry about points costs.

2. Enough with the cards already. Playing this game is very messy. Plus the cards have all sorts of errata to them, meaning the printed copies aren't necessarily correct. My version will use an RPG-like character sheet, considering the upgrade cards to be like a list of Feats for d20 RPGs. Some have pre-requisites, etc. A clean and accessible game where all upgrade cards are always up-to-date because they are just text entries in a list.

We'll see where this takes us over the coming months...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Don't Underestimate the Force

FFG announces a 30th anniversary re-print of the WEG rules for the Star Wars RPG! Scheduled for release later this year, with two books in a slipcase.

Some new content, in the spirit of the old books. Mostly a higher quality re-print of the original greatness. New forward by Pablo Hidalgo. I already own these two books, and many of their successors over the years, but I am definitely going to buy these as well.

Good news!


   

The announcement:
https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/news/2017/8/16/dont-underestimate-the-force/

The product page:
https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/star-wars-the-roleplaying-game-30th-anniversary-edition/

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Canto Bight


Here's a book I somehow missed in my recent round-up of notable upcoming Star Wars novels. A collection of four interconnected short stories set to be released on December 5, 2017, about which the publisher says the following:

Journey to Canto Bight: a lavish city rich with opportunity—but where the stakes couldn't be higher. Featuring four interconnected novella-length adventures of the exotic aliens and creatures who frequent the captivating casino.
Apparently this casino city features somehow into the events of Episode VIII. I don't know anything more than that...on purpose.

A few more 'Canto Bight' pictures I drummed up while searching for the place-holder novel cover shown above. Intriguing...




SWAJ 9


Ahh, now that's better. Reading this issue, Star Wars Adventure Journal, Vol 1, No. 9 (WEG, Feb. 1996), was quick and enjoyable, unlike the relative clunker of last issue.  

Peter Schweighofer's opening note (entitled Admiral's Communique) points out an important idea from the Star Wars Expanded Universe: 'Not Everyone's from Tatooine'. He encourages us to spread our wings and explore far flung places we've never heard of before. He reminds us that the best in the EU, like Zahn, add significantly to the shared setting. In the case of Zahn's Heir to the Empire, for instance, 10 new planets are seen (in addition to creating Rogue Squadron, the Skipray Blastboat, naming Coruscant, and tons more).

This issue had a couple of nice pieces of fiction, a few cool adventures, and some nice articles about used starships and smuggling best practices (and tips for running Imperial Customs officers for the GM). Another nice installment of Galaxywide NewsNet, too. A very satisfying read, overall. I am quite pleased SWAJ returned to form. Onward!



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Inferno Squad


Just finished this book, Star Wars Battlefront II: Inferno Squad (Christie Golden, 2017). The story is one of those that I feel wary about, namely attempts to "humanize" the Empire. The titular Inferno Squad is a elite group of Imperial problem solvers, tasked with tough jobs like culling the Empire of cheating Moffs and seeking out rebel sympathizers.

Set in the immediate aftermath of the destruction of the first Death Star, the "evil protagonists" flit about the galaxy, "wronging rights" (or what ever the evil version of 'righting wrongs' is...). In some cases there is a Mara Jade, Emperor's Hand kind of feeling to it all; she was a 'good' bad guy that took down corrupt bad guys. None of these characters is as interesting as Mara Jade, however, and we don't get a dose of the Star Wars regular characters (i.e. good good guys) to offset the dark side. Other than some distant name dropping, there is no one we know in this book. SW stories suffer when that happens.

I'd say the book is decent. Not very interesting, in some ways, because of the aforementioned lack of good guys. Even the non-Empire characters are the sad, ultra-violent partisans in the mold of Saw Gerrera. Kicked out of the Rebellion for being too bloody. Not a great vibe, to heighten the similarities between the anti-Imperial forces and modern day terrorist organizations, in my mind. I think of the Rebellion as more "Colonial Minutemen versus British Army" than "ISIS versus America". Some may argue that is a false distinction (or perhaps racially charged?) Much too deep a conversation for a Star Wars blog, at any rate. 

There are some minor technical issues I'd quibble with, but nothing jarring or too major. Many Star Wars novels struggle with heavy-handed in-universe cross-references, and this one is no different. A number of tie-ins to both Clone Wars and Rebels and Rogue One. Meiloorun fruit is one such reference which irked me: I recall that coming up a bunch in Rebels. Then, of course, I look it up and find that it does indeed get referenced in Rebels (in three episodes). It also shows up in Catalyst, Guardians of the Whills, and three issues of Kanan: The Last Padawan...but the fruit originates in X-Wing: Wedge's Gamble by the great Michael Stackpole (1996). So there's that.

The first video game tie-in book bearing the Battlefront name was better: 2015's Twilight Company (Alexander Freed).

Sunday, August 6, 2017

RPGaDAY

Never heard of this "RPGaDAY" situation. Is this like the ice-bucket challenge?


Q1: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?

A1: I am with Nate, here. I have a burning desire to play some Star Wars RPG. I would probably vote for the FFG version (and definitely either Age of Rebellion or all three books merged into one, with the PCs part of the Rebellion), but the WEG version is so dear to me that I wouldn't need much convincing. The second place finisher in this regard is 5th edition D&D.


Q2: What is an RPG you would like to see published?

A2: I can't think of anything missed, theme-wise. Part of me would like time to delve into some interesting settings I have seen "recently", like The One Ring system, Dr. Who, Firefly, and I always want to get involved in Shadowrun in some way. Most of these suggestions are also linked to SciFi universes I would want to explore more deeply.


Q3: How do you find out about new RPGs?

A3: I am a bit out of the loop, in terms of new RPGs. I visit the FFG website daily (hourly?), and I make it over to my two main game stores every other week or so (The Source and FFG Game Center). I keep tabs on D&D through regular visits to dnd.wizards.com, as well.


Q4: Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

A4: Pathfinder, as I have been playing in Nate's campaign. I do like Pathfinder, but I like other things as well. D&D 3rd edition was probably the most influential tidal wave to ever strike the RPG market, bar none.


Q5: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

A5: I have strong emotional attachments to many RPG-related book covers. One that really sticks out, for me, is the Star Wars 2nd edition WEG RPG. Not necessarily due to the cover composition, but rather due to how this cover, more than any other, perhaps, reminds me of the free-wheeling fun the RPGs can produce.




 Q6: You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do!

A6: In reality I would have to split my time between various RPG, miniature battle, board game, and video game platforms. If I had to stick with one RPG system, I would probably want to play with the "Tierfon Campaign" concept which began this blog: the PCs are members of an X-wing squadron, based at Tierfon, and the playing of the RPG uses (at the least) some of the miniature ships I have accumulated (in addition to periods of ground combat, etc, wherein my WotC Star Wars miniatures could come out and play).